The View from the Mountains: Christmas lessons from a wolf

Published 12:35 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2016

By Jean Brody

Sun columnist

Christmas is about giving so I wanted a column that was an example of giving.

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I sat for a while, wanting to come up with something inspirational and my mind kept imagining the animals in my life. Finally the experience I had with a mother wolf and her babies was what I settled on so here is what happened.

My husband Gene and I were traveling in Europe. While in England, I heard of a wolf compound there. Of course I wanted to go so I arranged a time to visit and gave them my credentials in working with wild wolves at Tyson Research Center and doing research for Washington University.

The wolves in this compound were completely wild and lived in a high security fence area and many acres large. When we arrived, the head researcher, after talking with me, asked me if I wanted to go inside. You bet I did.  Gene got his camera out and in I went. I heard rustling behind trees and saw several adult wolves up on a ledge who  were watching every move I made. As I kept walking, I saw what I hoped to see. It was mid-May and I knew a new litter was probably in the compound and there it was.

Immediately, I sat down on the ground with my back to the to the opening to the den. The area was quiet but as I sat silently, I heard little squeaky-like sounds and thought it to be baby wolf noises.  Praying that the mama would trust me and come out to me, I trembled with excitement and humbleness. I don’t know how long I sat there, but before long a beautiful gray wolf appeared in the den doorway. My back was to her so I could not see her but I sensed her presence.

After a few moments, she left the den and came to stop at my back. She began to sniff my neck and hair, and then came around to face me. We looked at each other at close distance.

I smiled and began speaking quietly, sending her all the love inside me. There was trust in the air and I knew that one mama was somehow communicating with another and that an amazing thing was about to happen.

Slowly, I stood up with no jerky motions and I walked to the den where four precious fuzzy black wolf cubs were standing.  I reached and picked up one of them and pulled her to my heart.  What was immediately incredible was that baby was not afraid of me nor was I afraid of her mama.

In fact, mama wolf circled me several times then sat beside me as her baby mouthed a hunk of my hair. The other babies watched intently but did not come out. I was in. We even fed over the fence. I was here in heaven at the gift she bestowed upon me as I knew full well how unusual this love gift was.  As I held the baby I felt tears come down my face.

All of a sudden, two large male wolves (I gathered it was the daddy and an uncle, as wolves are very family oriented) began to pace on the ridge and I knew they thought my visit had gone on long enough.

As I prepared to return the cub to the den, the males began to bark. Now I know that barking from a wolf was a definite warning, nothing like the barking of a dog.

It was over. I knew I had experienced a true miracle gift but still I had one more gift to receive. When I came out of the compound, the biologist who had come to witness my visit said,  “Jean, I need to tell you something. You are the first human to go inside that compound except a rare medic. We feed over the fence. I was here to make sure you were safe. I am very impressed.”

I have never forgotten that day nor that gift. It was full of love and trust and an element I want gifts among humans contained.

It actually changed and deepened my idea of giving and receiving gifts at Christmas and all other gift giving times of our lives.

The view from the mountains is wondrous.